Lee to Liffey seaplane ready for take off

FLIGHTS between Cork, Dublin, Belfast and Clare — that will use rivers as their take off and landing strips — are on schedule to be launched early next year.

Irish aviation company HarbourAir Ireland said it is taking on the country’s rail service with a €1 million investment in two planes that will transport people between Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Clare.

The aircraft are fully equipped to land in water and the company said it wants to cut out the congestion of airport travel.

The aircraft seat 20 people and HarbourAir said it is aiming to be more competitive than Irish Rail — which charges €59.50 at stations for an adult single from Cork to Dublin and a promotional rate of €33 via its website.

The company is backed by a group of Irish investors and spearheaded by the managing director of Clare Resorts, Emelyn Heaps and solicitor Ronan Connolly.

The service will be similar to that provided in Vancouver, Canada, which handles more than 100 seaplane flights per day.

Mr Heaps said: “With the consistent downgrading of Shannon, we have taken the initiative to apply for the licence to provide a short hop service which will provide cost effective flights across Ireland, all in less than one hour.”

HarbourAir is applying to the Irish Aviation Authority for an aircraft operational certificate (AOC) to provide the service. It already has a European AOC.

In addition to the initial €1m investment it plans to raise a further €5m to launch the service in March next year.

Director with Harbour-Air, Ronan Connolly, said: “We aim to open up the existing waterways in Ireland offering business people and tourists alike a fast and safe method of getting around the country.”

The proposed Dublin route will be based from Sir John Rogerson’s Quay on the River Liffey and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority — which governs this section of river — has approved a feasibility study on the route.

In Belfast, the intended landing area will be next to the Odyssey Centre, while the company will land its Dublin-Cork route service at Horgan’s Quay, adjacent to the train station.

All initial training and aircraft operations will be handled by HarbourAir Malta, and HarbourAir Vancouver, a joint venture partner company to HarbourAir Ireland.

The company employs five people but will have a staff of 22 if all licences are granted for the commencement of flights.


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